Rangoon, Burma (BBN) – Thousands of Burmese are voting in by-elections, for the first time credible alternatives to the ruling party have appeared on the country’s ballot.
Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is competing for all 45 seats, in the first vote it has contested since 1990.
Polls opened at 6 a.m. on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday), and were set to close eight hours later. Voters will weigh in during a time of enormous change in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, which has been secluded and ruled by a military junta for decades, according to reports.
Meanwhile, a by-election political poll taken this week by Mizzima, a Burmese news agency, found that 60 percent of the respondents planned to cast their vote for a NLD candidate. The poll was conducted by the Community Response Group in Rangoon.
The survey involved 362 respondents: 56 percent male and 44 percent female; of those, 40 percent were between ages 40 to 60; 39 percent between ages 25-39; 11 percent ages 18-24 and 10 percent 60 or older.
Among ethnic group respondents, Bamar accounted for the majority, numbering 291, followed by Kayin, 24; Chinese, 15, Rakhine 8, Indian 7, Mon 3, Chin 2; Shan 2; Kayah 1; and Kachin 1.
Asked are you aware of the election, 85 per cent responded “Yes”; 12 per cent, “Don’t know”; and 3 per cent “No answer.”
On whether they planed to vote, 85 per cent said “Yes”; 11 per cent, “No”; and 4 per cent, “Not Sure.”
Asked, “Do you know how to vote?” 84 per cent said “Yes”; 15 per cent said, “I don’t know.”
BBN/SSR/AD-01April12-10:40 am (BST)